Competition is a good thing as it drives companies to produce better products in a free marketplace. What happens when one company or product owns a monopoly and competitors are diminished and do not thrive?
WebKit is the browser technology that dominates mobile browsing; Apple iOS and Google Android.
John Siracusa’s Fear of a WebKit Planet is a good read for anyone worried about the state of web browsing in the 21st century.
A single, crappy web browser coming to dominate the market would be just as terrible today as it was in the dark days of IE6. But WebKit is not a browser. Like Linux, it’s an enabling technology. Like Linux, it’s free, open-source, and therefore beyond the control of any single entity.
So, this browser monopoly on mobile devices is different than Microsoft’s once onerous browser dominance of recent years (which resulted in stagnation).
Here’s the difference.
Web rendering engines are extremely complex. There are very few companies that have the expertise to create and maintain one on their own. (Again, the similarity to Linux is strong here.) I’m glad all those developers at Apple and Google are working on improving the same open-source web rendering engine, rather than dividing their efforts between two totally different, proprietary engines.
However, with over 50-percent of the usage marketshare for desktop and notebook browsers, how would the world be served if Microsoft adopted WebKit for both Windows and Windows Phone devices?